Agreement in principle for Paul Johnson extension

Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson has received one more confirmation of support from athletic director Todd Stansbury, and it’s a little more affirming than a short note left in his office mail slot. While Tech faltered this past season with a 5-6 record, Johnson has agreed in principle on a two-year contract extension, Johnson’s attorney Jack Reale said Thursday.

“I think you can quote me on saying that we’re in the process of negotiating an extension on Coach’s contract and that negotiations are going well and we expect things to be concluded shortly,” Reale told the AJC.

Discussions are to the point that Reale said he was waiting for a draft of the agreement terms.

The extension will now carry the contract through the 2022 season, which would be his 15th at Tech, when he will be 65. It is the fourth contract extension that Johnson has received at Tech, following renegotiations at or near the end of the 2008, 2009 and 2014 seasons.

“He’s done well,” Reale said. “He’s naturally not pleased with the second half of several games last year, but hopefully some changes have been made to gain a different result going forward.”

Johnson’s current contract was to end after the 2020 season. Coaches often view extended contracts as critical for recruiting, as rival coaches may seek to win prospects by questioning the job security of a coach at a competing school through the years remaining on his contract.

The extension is another concrete example of the support that Stansbury has offered Johnson. Stansbury has also backed Johnson through projects such as the updated lobby of the football office, a locker-room renovation and the addition of recruiting staff.

In the last year of the current contract, Johnson is scheduled to earn $3.25 million. His salary for the 2017 season was $2.97 million.

“I’m not going to get into the terms, but it’s a contract that’s certainly acceptable to the coach, and it’s appropriate,” Reale said.

Johnson’s 2017 salary ranked 40th among head coaches, according to a USA Today report. His pay was sixth among ACC coaches, although the list does not include Miami coach Mark Richt and Syracuse coach Dino Babers, as they work at private schools that are not required to release contract information through open-records requests. (The salaries of coaches at other private schools, such as Duke’s David Cutcliffe, were obtained through the schools’ federal tax returns.)

In Johnson’s tenure, the Jackets have won one ACC title (since vacated), played for two others and twice gone to the Orange Bowl. Before his hire in December 2007, Tech had not been to a major bowl (Cotton, Rose, Sugar, Orange) since the retirement of coach Bobby Dodd at the end of the 1966 season. Johnson has been named ACC coach of the year three times.

Reale said that negotiations had been ongoing as the 2017 season progressed.

“But I think Coach didn’t want any distractions in terms of getting into the nitty-gritty until after the season was over, so when that was concluded, it was time to go ahead and move forward,” he said.